Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Traveller's Guide to Faerun: Furthinghome (Elven Quarter)

I told the innkeeper of my predicament, and he seemed evasive.  'I wouldn't know nothing about that sir,' he said, 'but a word to the wise- wear your hood up round these parts.  Not much love for elves here.'
'But I'm not an elf...  I've never even seen an elf.'
The innkeeper shook his head.  'Doesn't matter to the people of Furthingharrow; to them, pointy ears equals elf and elf equals self-entitled foreign pansy that gets everything handed to them on a plate whilst us humans are forced into the gutter.'
'What happened for things to get like this?'
I would soon regret asking that question.  For the next hour or so I received a lecture on the history of
The Elves' feared for the future of Yuirwood
Algarond- fascinating, but I'd prefer to hear it from a scholar than a bartender.  Basically, half-elves pre-emptively invaded the human towns on the north coast to prevent the Yuirwood from being destroyed to further human expansion.  The humans saw this as typical elven obnoxiousness, believing they wouldn't have had an impact on the huge Yuirwood, and so the majority moved further up the coast to found Altumbel.  The ones that remained have been stewing hatred ever since, and now that Algarond is ruled by a human- the Simbul- these remaining humans think they have a chance to overthrow their elven oppressors.  The only problems are that the Simbul was a half-elf's apprentice, has her hands full dealing with Thay, and is quite possibly insane.

After this lesson I thanked the innkeeper and enquired about work to reclaim my stolen money.  He asked if I had adventuring experience which I found a little odd.  I said I hadn't, so he suggested going to the rich side of town and helping in the elven greenhouses, as at least there I wouldn't have to disguise myself.  

I found the transition quite remarkable.  As I walked through the streets the buildings became less weathered-wood and more solid stone, and the city seemed to visibly brighten as I headed into the wealthier area.  Here I got my first good look at elves, or half-elves at least, and was shocked to find they looked almost exactly the same as humans.  From the way the innkeeper spoke I thought their ears would be like
Elf ears do not look like this.
scythes attached to their heads, but these half-elves ears were shorter than mine!  If I hadn't known to look at their ears I wouldn't have noticed any difference, aside from their much more refined dress.  Of course, I wasn't here to study them as if they were some alien species (though I suppose they technically were, to me)- I was here to work.  It seemed taverns were the best place to find prospective employers, so I headed to the closest one- The Aglarond Arms.  What a change from the Beached Mermaid!  This place was huge, with lovely wooden flooring, a grand fireplace, several fine dining tables, the smell of woodsmoke, and even at this time of day it was busy with patrons- who I became disconcertingly aware were all staring at me and had suddenly gone very quiet.  I realised I must look very out of place in my tattered rags, and thankfully as I lowered my cowl revealing my glorious ears there was an audible sigh of relief.  I approached the bar, which was decorated with all sorts of paraphernalia, and caught the attention of the admittedly somewhat attractive barmaid; clearly a full wood elf judging by the lovely copper shade of her skin.  I avoided flirting with her as I know how much annoyance it must cause from other patrons, and simply asked about work in the area.
'Oh another adventurer...'
'People keep calling me that...  Why?'
'You mean you're not?  I'm sorry, it's just we don't get many non-elves here, and what with the robes...  Can I get you a drink?  My name's Melindraea.'
'Thank you Melindraea, my name is Zephran, but regrettably I am short of coin.  Hence why I'm looking for work?'
'Oh, I see.  Um... actually yes, there was someone looking for help with his dahlias- Sir Rayner, he lives at the large house on Queen's Street, you can't miss it.'
'Thank you, I look forward to seeing you again, Melindraea.'

'Yes?'  The man who opened the door certainly wasn't what I was expecting.  I expected a frail old man that couldn't look after his flowers, and instead I'm greeted by a man in full ceremonial golden armour.
'Sir Rayner?  I was told you needed some gardening help...?'
He gave a snort of derision.  'Gardening?  Please, that's when it's done out of necessity.  This, my boy, is horticulture.  Say, you're an Outsider aren't you?  Not taking revenge for that little misunderstanding in Sigil are you?  No, you'd have to be better armed than that... Oh well, come in and let's see what you can do.  Judging by your stubble I don't hold out much hope though.'
A painting of Sir Rayner
I followed Sir Rayner into a veritable mansion in pristine condition.  The walls were decorated with trophies from all manner of beasts; clearly this man had seen his share of adventure.  I was led out to a small glass house in which were kept various plants.
'Right, let's see what you can do.  Clear the weeds from these roses, and perhaps I'll let you have a go at the dahlias.'
He handed me a pair of gloves and what looked like scissors.  I was momentarily taken aback- how do you make things grow by cutting them?  Nonetheless I made a few careful cuts on the plant, not entirely sure what I was doing but desperate for the money.
'Hmm!  Not bad, you seem to be very careful, you must take a lot of pride in your work!  Very well, I shall leave you to it.  I'll be in the conservatory writing this blasted report if you need me, you can leave at dusk as I've got to be at the palace.  I've fought hordes of orcs, demons, even dragons, but nothing terrifies me more than meeting with the Simbul!'

As I worked I found the experience quite relaxing, and soon my mind began to wander.  I reflected on the past couple of days, and how strange things were in this world.  The humans resent the half-elves, and the half-elves seem fearful despite being the ones in charge.  But if Sir Rayner was a half-elf, then it certainly seems they have the capability to be ruthless...  And what of full elves?  There must be some remaining in the forests, yet the half-elves do all the fighting for them?  Perhaps I should ask Melindraea about her people?

'Elves hide in their forest, whilst men chop it down,
Elves' ultimatum: stop or we'll frown.
Men's response: we can't or we'll drown!
You have your forest, we have our town,
Logging won't make a dent- your forest won't brown!

Humans claim they mean Elves no harm.
Elves are not swayed by the humans' charm.
Elves take too long to make their decision,
Half-Elves step in to make a swift incision.

Half-Elves now rule Aglarond,
Gone is the Human/Elf bond.

Half-Elves are neither Elven nor Human,
Now they are treated as some mutant fusion.
Better than Humans, lesser than Elves,
What sort of future will they carve for themselves...?'

'What was that?' said Sir Rayner.  He had apparently been stood behind me some time.
'Oh, I was just singing to myself.  Sorry, I won't let my mind wander again.'
'Don't be a fool man!  That was marvellous!  Not many understand the decision we had to make; if we waited for our elven fathers then the forest would be destroyed!  Taking control of the humans was the only way to stop them from getting out of hand.'
'I'm glad you liked it...'
'Hah!  You've inspired me, boy, we need to get you to the Simbul!  Tell me, have you ever considered becoming a bard?'

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